First quarter of 2023. After months of delay, the private ‘lowcost’ train operator Ouigo has confirmed to the Valencian employer CEV that its services will be available in Alicante in the first quarter of 2023. The vice president of the CEV, Toni Mayor, thanked the explanations and assessed Ouigo’s arrival in Alicante as tremendously positive, but he regretted that he had to wait until next year.
From the operator they have expressed their commitment “with the high-speed project in Alicante”. Ouigo’s Commercial and Marketing Director, Federico Pareja, explained that the company is “committed to the plans to reach Alicante in the first half of 2023”, with an offer of 4 routes (two out and two back) and a stop in Albacete.
“Once operational, the connection will have an offer of more than 28,504 seats per week. The arrival of the private operator in Alicante and Valencia will be key to promote the economic growth of the Valencian Communityits tourism and its employment, with both direct and indirect jobs, after the impact suffered by the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected it on a global scale,” the statement continued.
[Ouigo comenzará a operar la alta velocidad Madrid-Valencia el 7 de octubre]
“Alicante is a strategic province for Ouigo. We want to get to the province as soon as possible so that the people of Madrid can enjoy it in a few hours of the economic, social and cultural wealth of Alicante, and that the people of Alicante also do so of Madrid”, underlined Pareja.
To do this, he has made an investment in Spain of more than 600 million euros and is determined to advance sustainable mobility. Its double-height trains with 509 seats are the ones with the highest capacity in Spain and have the potential to lead the decarbonisation that the country needs, since an OUIGO train pollutes an average of 80 times less than an airplane and 50 times less than a car.
Federico Pareja has highlighted that “Ouigo will open the Madrid-Valencia axis first, on October 7, and then in Alicante, an order that responds exclusively to the fact that the line that will connect Alicante with Madrid has with a different security system that requires preparation longer than the line with Valencia”.
The Madrid-Valencia line has the same security system as the one that connects Madrid with Barcelona, the ERTMS1, and this mechanism is already equipped on Ouigo trainsbut the Alicante axis has a system called ERTMS2 and that requires a longer preparation.
The Commercial and Marketing director has illustrated that “the opening of any new route entails a long technical and administrative procedure, which prevents opening two procedures at the same time and that is why Ouigo has decided to start with Valencia, which for technical reasons is more feasible”.
“After obtaining the corresponding authorizations regarding safety standards, we have to test the rolling stock to verify its correct adaptation and, subsequently, staff must be trained specifically for the section in question. All this takes time”, he added.
Ouigo aims to democratize the high-speed train with its fares from 9 euros, so that these trips are accessible to all audiences, and it is already achieving it: since it began operations in Spain in May 2021, with the opening of the Madrid-Barcelona line, average high-speed prices have dropped by 50%.
These prices have allowed more and more young people, students, freelancers, families who access the high-speed train, profiles that previously did not use this means of transport as much as they do now.